- November’s awareness day place particular influence on male mental health
- Encouraging figures see dramatic upswing in men accessing counselling services
- Particularly important at a time when nearly 10 million people in the UK require mental health support
- Men still more likely than women to die from suicide and resort to damaging coping mechanisms for mental health issues
- Dedicated workplace counselling increases chances of men engaging with support offered
During November, Movember and International Men’s Day help raise awareness of the important topic of male mental health, with an emphasis on getting more men to access mental health support.
And latest figures suggest that there is reason for optimism. Whereas the narrative around male mental health is traditionally driven by themes of avoidance and denial, we have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of men accessing counselling, and this could not have come at a more important time.
The Quality Care Commission highlights that up to 10 million people in the UK require mental health support[i]. There are currently 1.2 million people are on waiting lists for NHS support[ii] and it is struggling to cope. For male mental health these stats are particularly problematic. Men still make up ¾ of suicide deaths in the UK[iii], are more likely to abuse alcohol and recreational drugs as coping mechanisms[iv] and are more likely to go missing.
Therefore the provision of expert counselling is essential, particularly in the workplace where the demands and stresses can add to, trigger or exacerbate mental health issues.
And there is evidence that men feel more comfortable opening up in a mental health setting. The BACP reports that the number of men accessing counselling has risen from 18% to 27% in a decade[v]. At Wellbeing Partners, we have found an even greater upswing in male counselling participation, with 45% of our workplace counselling sessions now being accessed by men.
For businesses to ensure that their male employees access the mental health support services being offered, they should ask themselves two questions.
Firstly, how easy is it for staff to access these services? It is more likely that people will take up these provisions if it is a straightforward process, ideally a one-step procedure that makes it simple to book a session with a counsellor.
Secondly, does our process focus on encouraging employees to discuss challenge and difficulties rather than just crises? Ideally the counselling support on offer will be focused on a wider sense of mental wellbeing, allowing for the processing of challenges and difficulties in a timely manner so they do not develop into more serious issues.
Lou Campbell, counsellor and programmes director of Wellbeing Partners explains:
“The emphasis is proactive wellness, processing difficulties before they become a crisis and normalising this as part of the workplace culture. This emphasis helps people engage earlier and helps remove the perceived stigma amongst some men about accessing mental health support”.
Managers too have an important role to play in ensuring this support is seen as part of a healthy working culture and taken up by employees. Encouragement is invaluable for staff who might be unsure around asking for mental health support.
“An essential component of mental health training in the workplace is focusing on training managers to be able to notice signs of employees needing support and having the skills necessary to signpost them onward to that support”.
Our actions, as managers, HR staff and colleagues, can help sustain this impressive upturn in men accessing mental health support. If you would like more information on male mental health and how counselling can support your employees, please contact